Remarks by Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera at Round Table Discussion on Sri Lanka’s Peace and Reconciliation Process


Remarks by

Hon. Mangala Samaraweera, MP

Minister of Foreign Affairs of Sri Lanka

Institute for Security and Development Policy, Stockholm

Round Table Discussion on

Sri Lanka’s Peace and Reconciliation Process


Mr. Niklas Swanstrom,
Sri Lanka’s Ambassador to Sweden Damayanthi Rajapaksa,
Distinguished Invitees,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

I am honored to have the opportunity to speak at the Institute for Security and Development Policy (ISDP), one of the leading think tanks of Sweden. It is also a great pleasure to be back in the historic city of Stockholm. Nearly 22 years ago, I visited your beautiful city in an earlier incarnation as the Minister of Telecommunications of Sri Lanka. Today I feel fortunate to be here once again when the guns and the bombs have finally fallen silent and Sri Lanka following a new political trajectory.

The month of January holds special significance for Sri Lankan people; it was on 8th January 2015 that Sri Lanka’s transformational journey began following the presidential elections. The month of January is now associated with peace and reconciliation. In fact, last week, Sri Lanka observed the National Integration and Reconciliation Week that was declared by the Cabinet of Ministers from 8th to 14th January.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

In 1948 Sri Lanka, then Ceylon, was seen as one of the newly independent countries most likely to succeed. A British newspaper predicted a bright future for Ceylon, and wrote that it would no doubt become the Switzerland of the East in an Editorial on the 5th of February 1948.

Sri Lanka at independence was considered a model Commonwealth country with a relatively good standard of education, two universities of high quality, a civil service largely consisting of trained locals, and with experience in representative government.

Ceylon was a flourishing and robust democracy with universal adult franchise introduced to us in 1931. The women in Sri Lanka started enjoying the franchise way before other Asian countries. Sri Lanka elected female legislators to local government bodies and the national parliament. In fact my own mother was the first female councilor elected to the Matara Urban Council in the late 1950s. And of course, as you all know, Sri Lanka had the privilege of electing the world’s first female Prime Minister, the late Mrs. Sirimavo Bandaranaike.

However, as Lee Kuan Yew wrote, Sri Lanka squandered away all the opportunities over the years; in his memoirs from “Third World to First World”, he writes…“during my visits over the years, I saw a promising country go to waste”.

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